Persuasive Genres

Document created by Cari Goldfine Expert on Oct 29, 2018Last modified by Leah Rang on Jun 6, 2019
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Assignment by Matt Switliski, Bedford New Scholar 2018



For the next essay, you can choose what form the essay will take: an op-ed, a report, or a letter. To jumpstart your thinking about the distinctions and overlaps among these, answer the following questions in groups for the snippet examples provided. You’ll also spend some time making connections to your own writing, so fill your group mates in on what topic you’re writing about and the angle you’re taking with it. In other words: In the essay you’re writing, what are you trying to convince an audience of and why should they believe you?


Questions to Consider

  • Who is the audience of the op-ed, the report, the letter? Which would you say has the broadest audience? The most narrow? Point to instances in the text that lead you to say so (in essence, support your point).
  • In each, where do you see use of ethos, logos, and/or pathos? Which has the most/least of the given appeals? Show us your evidence. Why do you think that is?
  • Sure, the report is more formal, but what does that mean? What specific features in the text convey that greater formality? Show us where.
  • What similarities do you see among these three brief examples? What connections do you see between what all three are doing and what you’ve done so far with your essay?
  • We have only a fragment of each one. What more information do you expect from the op-ed, report, and letter?
  • Imagine you belong to each audience intended for each of the 3 examples. What would you want the writer to address? What alternative viewpoints do you believe it’s important to include?
  • Look at your own drafts. Which genre of these 3 seems most appropriate? Why?
  • Who’s your audience? Let your group act as members of that audience. What opinions, concerns, and questions do they have you haven’t addressed yet? How will you address them?



Included here are the introductions for three approaches to the same research project. Use these to answer the questions above, and to consider the format your essay will take.


Student Y

ENGL 401.48 MWF 12:10-1

Prof. X


Word count: 325


Why the Free Library Needs You (and Why You Need It)


Editorial note: As reported in the Daily News (Lindermayer), the city council is planning to cut back hours for the Free Library’s sixty-one locations. We solicited guest editorials from you, the readers of Philadelphia Magazine, and this one from a local teacher made the best case for the importance of the Free Library, even if—especially if—you’ve never set foot inside.


The Ben Franklin Parkway bursts with culture. We have the Rodin Museum, the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Barnes Foundation, and the Art Museum (forever memorialized in Rocky, however tired we may be of tourists jogging the stairs). We’ve got more than enough to be proud of. Just across from Logan Square, overlooking the Vine Street Expressway, sits the main building of our Free Library (a name that always struck me as redundant—aren’t libraries by definition free?). With sixty-one branches scattered all across the city the Library offers the usual services, loaning out millions of materials per year and providing free computer access (“2014 Annual Report”). That alone would be plenty enough for any institution, but the Free Library of Philadelphia does much more; it brings authors in for readings, holds job-hunting info sessions, and hosts free children’s activities, among other things (Free Library Programs and Services). The FLP serves exactly the people you’d expect—students and teachers, readers and researchers, people looking for some time online and/or a place to nap, passersby who’d prefer not to buy something to use a restroom. But it also performs a vital role in the larger community, benefiting even those of us in the city who have never made use of the Library’s raft of services. Right now the FLP is in danger. And it needs your help.


As Kirstin Lindermayer reported a few months ago, the city council has drawn up a plan to cut back the operating hours to half-day service at twenty local branches (Lindermayer)…


Student Y

ENGL 401.48 MWF 12:10-1

Prof. X


Word count: 232


Defending the Free Library from Proposed Cutbacks: A Report


Submitted to: Philadelphia City Council



Recently the Free Library of Philadelphia has lost approximately $10 millions dollars in funding from both the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania. This has led to several unscheduled closings of library branches, program cuts, and a staff reduced by over a hundred, as reported in December in the Daily News (Lindermayer). According to its 2014 Annual Report, the FLP organizes tens of thousands of adult and children’s programs, and circulates over three million materials in its physical collection alone (8). While the impact of disruption to library services on patrons of the FLP is clear, the city council’s decision to reduce support for the library overlooks the fact that the FLP, as with libraries in general, serves an important role for the wider community in terms of increased economic benefit, academic achievement, political involvement, and civic pride. Though the council has a viable rationale for cutting services in light of federal and state budget cuts, the library as a public good should be prioritized over and above other considerations that have been unaffected by budget reductions.


Economic Benefit

According to a 2010 report conducted by researchers with the University of Pennsylvania, the Free Library of Philadelphia benefits the city of Philadelphia economically across four domains: literacy, workforce development, business development, and values to homes and neighborhoods (5). The Pennsylvania Library Association corroborates these findings…


Student Y

ENGL 401.48 MWF 12:10-1

Prof. X


Word count: 304


Budget Cuts for the Free Library Is Bad for Philadelphia


Mayor Nutter and the Philadelphia City Council,


I have not had the chance to live within the city limits of Philadelphia at any point in my life. But I’ve spent huge swaths of time there. I earned my bachelor’s and my master’s at Saint Joseph’s University, where Mayor Nutter was so recently given a doctorate (congratulations on being an honorary Hawk) (“SJU Announces 2015”), I’ve worked as an adjunct at both the Community College of Philadelphia and the University of the Sciences, and I’ve spent countless hours there with friends and family—Phillies games, the museums on the Ben Franklin Parkway, aimless wanders along South Street and the waterfront. I haven’t done any official tally, but where I’ve probably spent the largest chunk of my time is the Free Library. And, if the numbers are any indication, legions of residents and non-residents visit the FLP for its programs, its impressive selection of books and media, and/or just to admire the building. (It’s a beautiful space.) Last year’s Annual Report estimates over 5.5 million visits to the FLP system and nearly 6.5 million materials were borrowed (8). Whenever I’m making my way to a part of the city I’ve never explored before, I make a point of knowing where the nearest bookstore and library branch are. With sixty-one locations, there’s a good chance I’ll always be able to find a library nearby.


It disappoints me, then, to read in the Daily News that an institution that has served such an important role to me as a reader and a teacher is in danger thanks to budget cuts at both the state and federal levels (Lindermayer). I write to you today not to criticize you for proposing to reduce library service; I can only imagine the pressure involved in governing a city. Rather, I want to…